Why Calorie Restricted Diets make you FATTER!

Have you ever noticed how after you’ve finished a diet the weight you worked so hard to lose starts creeping back and before you know it, you’re back to the weight you were pre-diet? Even worse, you might find yourself even heavier than ever before? The reason for this is very simple. Dieting makes you fatter!

First of all let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of the word Diet. I bet it differs somewhat to most people’s definition!

Definition of diet:


  • the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats:a vegetarian diet.

You see, not a calorie in sight! When people go on a diet it is a short term measure, and this is where it all goes wrong. It’s a temporary thing. You shouldn’t “go on a diet”. Your lifestyle should incorporate your habitual diet. So not a short term fix but the way that you live your life, consistently each and every day!

Let’s go back in time for a minute…

So why do you put weight back on when you finish a calorie restricted diet? Science has the answer. We have to go back in time a little, well quite a lot actually, back through your family line, even further than your grandparents, way back to when your ancestors were living in caves, back about 1.5 million years.

You see, our caveman ancestors, let’s call them Caveman Bob and his family as an example, had exactly the same bodies that we do; they just lived in a different environment. Back then they didn’t have the convenience of a Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda or Aldi. Nor did they have the luxury of refrigeration (except maybe in the Ice ages) and they had no idea where their next meal was coming from, so their bodies had to adapt.

When there was plentiful supply of food in the Spring and Summer, Caveman Bob’s family got to eat until their hearts were content (and as they had no junk food, their hearts were far more contented than ours are!) , their bodies would store a layer of subcutaneous fat, the stuff that you store on your belly and behind!

Eventually the colder weather would come and the seasonal fruit, vegetables and nuts would disappear and the game would be harder to catch. Their bodies would then rely on the fat it had stored to give them the energy to survive the imminent famine.

Eventually the warmer months would come back around and food easier to come by, so the Caveman Bob and the rest of the cave people (I don’t want to be sexist!) would again eat until they had their fill and their bodies would replenish the now depleted fat stores.

But the human body is an amazing machine and it would realise that it was touch and go whether Caveman Bob & co would survive the last famine so this time around it will store a little bit MORE fat, to be a little bit better prepared for the next famine, just to be on the safe side. So Caveman Bob’s Family diet went like this:

  1. Eat in abundance and store fat.
  2. Be forced to consume a low calorie diet,
  3. Low calorie diet finishes and they can go back to eating in abundance
  4. Their body replaces the lost fat and adds some extra fat for the next famine!

Lessons From Caveman Bob’s Diet…

Can you see the similarities between their diet and the modern version of a diet? The problem is that our bodies are storing fat for a famine that never comes so it just keeps storing and storing resulting in ever expanding waistlines! The secret is to eat as Caveman Bob did, but without the famine. Eat, meat, eat healthy fats, eat vegetables, fruits and nuts and avoid anything that wasn’t around when they were.

This includes anything that contains grains in particular, so that means no bread, pasta or rice. As I mentioned earlier, our bodies are exactly the same as our Caveman ancestors and we haven’t yet evolved to the point that our bodies can digest the grains properly as they have only been around for the last 10,000 years or so and we just aren’t designed to eat them!

So if you want to lose weight and live healthier, before you go on a calorie restricted or the latest celebrity endorsed fad diet why not just ask yourself: “Would  Caveman Bob have eaten this?” If the answer is “No”, then put it back. I can guarantee that there were no obese or big boned cavemen!

Dean Clarke (with special thanks to Caveman Bob)
Personal Trainer and Nutritional Advisor


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